Sunday, June 11, 2006

Democracy? No, Just Business As Usual

I was scanning blog posts at the HuffPo (slow news morning, what can I say?) when I stumbled across a post by Arianna talking about Mark Warner's presence at YearlyKos. She reports that the would-be presidential candidate spent $100,000 buttering up conference goers. I about laughed myself silly at this quote:
As Warner told me, "when I arrived at the party and saw the large ice sculpture in the room, I thought 'oh my God -- I must see the receipts.' But no one would think twice if this were a party for donors or elected local officials. Well, it's time we took the netroots seriously. This is a community that needs to be taken seriously, and represents the democratization of the public square of America."

Democratization of the public square? Please. Warner was simply kissing up to another interest group. He lavished money on a group of people who are well connected and can say nice things about him. This is hardly taking the netroots seriously. It is courting them for votes exactly as you would any other block of opinion makers. Say the right things, kiss the right asses, hope the money spent translates into votes, then do what you always planned to do in the first place.

Again, the naivete (real or feigned) of the self-proclaimed saviors of the left leaves me shaking my head. They can wax rhapsodic over some schmoozer like Warner, then get their panties in a bunch when Sen. Boxer tells them she's not interested in their jihad against Holy Joe. And don't tell me I don't understand the crisis point of the Democratic party, how they *must* get better people in there! Kids, I've been a Dem all my life and a politically active one at that. Candidates are no better or worse than they've ever been. Actually, they're probably better in our party as the scum left over from the Civil War has finally decamped and joined the Rethugs. The difference is that the structure of power in the Congress has been transformed and the Dems have not internalized that fact - any more than the majority of Americans have done so.

The take-away message I get from YearlyKos - what is coming out over the net vs. what the participants may be experiencing - is that the netroots is going to annoint candidates and make acceptance of their electoral choices the litmus test for other candidates. I can agree that the current leadership of the Democratic Party (to the degree that there *is* a leadership rather than rulers of fractured fiefdoms) is both too timorous and too comfortable. That doesn't mean I find the Kossack Krew more appealing. The more I read of their statements, the more I watch their tactics, the less I think of them.


1 comment:

Anglachel said...

Thank you.

I want to emphasize that I don't think Warner (or any other candidate seeking office at any level) should *not* take the internet community seriously, or fail to treat them as a constituency as real as any other trans-national organization. I'm objecting to the presumption that showing up at the conference and dropping a chunk of change somehow means that a candidate is making some kind of substantive commitment to your policy goals.

People said that Warner was the only presidential candidate at YK06, but they overlook Wes Clark, who was much more deeply involved in the conference and who is a more substantial figure to my mind. Gen. Clark, however, does not have a major blogger deliberately promoting him as a candidate the way Mr. Warner does, nor did he drop $100K on booze and sushi, so he did not get the same kind of rah-rah press.

Overall, I think it is a shame that the YK06 conference was taken over by the asinine litmus test of "Do you swear to support Ned Lamont and not Joe Lieberman?" because it sounds like the non-candidate activity was much more productive.